Chickenpox consists of an itchy, red rash that breaks out on the face, scalp, chest, back and, to a lesser extent, arms and legs. The spots quickly fill with a clear fluid, rupture and then turn crusty.
Chickenpox is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It causes an itchy rash with small, fluid-filled blisters. Chickenpox is highly contagious to people who haven't had the disease or been vaccinated against it. Today, a vaccine is available that protects children against chickenpox. Routine vaccination is recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The chickenpox vaccine is a safe, effective way to prevent chickenpox and its possible complications.
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The itchy blister rash caused by chickenpox infection appears 10 to 21 days after exposure to the virus and usually lasts about five to 10 days. Other signs and symptoms, which may appear one to two days before the rash, include:
Loss of appetite
Tiredness and a general feeling of being unwell (malaise)
Once the chickenpox rash appears, it goes through three phases:
Raised pink or red bumps (papules), which break out over several days
Small fluid-filled blisters (vesicles), which form in about one day and then break and leak
Crusts and scabs, which cover the broken blisters and take several more days to heal
New bumps continue to appear for several days, so you may have all three stages of the rash — bumps, blisters and scabbed lesions — at the same time. You can spread the virus to other people for up to 48 hours before the rash appears, and the virus remains contagious until all broken blisters have crusted over.
The disease is generally mild in healthy children. In severe cases, the rash can cover the entire body, and lesions may form in the throat, eyes, and mucous membranes of the urethra, anus and vagina.
When to see a doctor
If you think you or your child might have chickenpox, consult your doctor. He or she usually can diagnose chickenpox by examining the rash and considering other symptoms. Your doctor can also prescribe medications to lessen the severity of chickenpox and treat complications, if necessary. To avoid infecting others in the waiting room, call ahead for an appointment and mention that you think you or your child may have chickenpox.
Also, let your doctor know if:
The rash spreads to one or both eyes.
The rash gets very red, warm or tender. This could indicate a secondary bacterial skin infection.
The rash is accompanied by dizziness, disorientation, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, tremors, loss of muscle coordination, worsening cough, vomiting, stiff neck or a fever higher than 102 F (38.9 C).
Anyone in the household has a problem with his or her immune system or is younger than 6 months.
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Chickenpox infection is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It can spread through direct contact with the rash. It can also spread when a person with the chickenpox coughs or sneezes and you inhale the air droplets.
Your risk of becoming infected with the varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox is higher if you haven't already had chickenpox or if you haven't had the chickenpox vaccine. It's especially important for people who work in child care or school settings to be vaccinated.
Most people who have had chickenpox or have been vaccinated against chickenpox are immune to chickenpox. A few people can get chickenpox more than once, but this is rare. If you've been vaccinated and still get chickenpox, symptoms are often milder, with fewer blisters and mild or no fever.
Chickenpox is normally a mild disease. But it can be serious and can lead to complications including:
Bacterial infections of the skin, soft tissues, bones, joints or bloodstream (sepsis)
Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
Toxic shock syndrome
Reye's syndrome in children and teenagers who take aspirin during chickenpox
Who's at risk?
People who are at higher risk of chickenpox complications include:
Newborns and infants whose mothers never had chickenpox or the vaccine
Adolescents and adults
Pregnant women who haven't had chickenpox
People who smoke
People whose immune systems are weakened by medication, such as chemotherapy, or by a disease, such as cancer or HIV
People who are taking steroid medications for another disease or condition, such as asthma
Chickenpox and pregnancy
Low birth weight and limb abnormalities are more common among babies born to women who are infected with chickenpox early in their pregnancy. When a mother is infected with chickenpox in the week before birth or within a couple of days after giving birth, her baby has a higher risk of developing a serious, life-threatening infection.
If you're pregnant and not immune to chickenpox, talk to your doctor about the risks to you and your unborn child.
Chickenpox and shingles
If you've had chickenpox, you're at risk of a complication called shingles. The varicella-zoster virus remains in your nerve cells after the skin infection has healed. Many years later, the virus can reactivate and resurface as shingles — a painful cluster of short-lived blisters. The virus is more likely to reappear in older adults and people who have weakened immune systems.
The pain of shingles can last long after the blisters disappear. This is called postherpetic neuralgia and can be severe.
The shingles vaccine (Shingrix) is recommended for adults who have had chickenpox. Shingrix is approved and recommended for people age 50 and older, including those who've previously received another shingles vaccine (Zostavax). Zostavax, which isn't recommended until age 60, is no longer sold in the United States.
The chickenpox (varicella) vaccine is the best way to prevent chickenpox. Experts from the CDC estimate that the vaccine provides complete protection from the virus for nearly 98% of people who receive both of the recommended doses. When the vaccine doesn't provide complete protection, it significantly lessens the severity of chickenpox.
The chickenpox vaccine (Varivax) is recommended for:
Young children. In the United States, children receive two doses of the varicella vaccine — the first between ages 12 and 15 months and the second between ages 4 and 6 years — as part of the routine childhood vaccination schedule.
The vaccine can be combined with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, but for some children between the ages of 12 and 23 months, the combination may increase the risk of fever and seizure from the vaccine. Discuss the pros and cons of combining the vaccines with your child's doctor.
Unvaccinated older children. Children ages 7 to 12 years who haven't been vaccinated should receive two catch-up doses of the varicella vaccine, given at least three months apart. Children age 13 or older who haven't been vaccinated should also receive two catch-up doses of the vaccine, given at least four weeks apart.
Unvaccinated adults who've never had chickenpox and are at high risk of exposure. This includes health care workers, teachers, child care employees, international travelers, military personnel, adults who live with young children and all women of childbearing age.
Adults who've never had chickenpox or been vaccinated usually receive two doses of the vaccine, four to eight weeks apart. If you don't remember whether you've had chickenpox or the vaccine, a blood test can determine your immunity.
The chickenpox vaccine isn't approved for:
People who have weakened immune systems, such as those who are infected with HIV, or people who are taking immune-suppressing medications
People who are allergic to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin
Talk to your doctor if you're unsure about your need for the vaccine. If you're planning on becoming pregnant, consult with your doctor to make sure you're up to date on your vaccinations before conceiving a child.
Is it safe and effective?
Parents typically wonder whether vaccines are safe. Since the chickenpox vaccine became available, studies have consistently found it to be safe and effective. Side effects are generally mild and include redness, soreness, swelling and, rarely, small bumps at the site of the shot.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
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What Is Chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a viral infection that causes fever and an itchy rash with spots all over the body.
It used to be a common childhood illness in the United States, especially in kids under age 12. It's much rarer now, thanks to the varicella vaccine.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Chickenpox?
Chickenpox often starts without the classic rash, with a fever, headache, sore throat, or stomachache. These symptoms may last for a few days, with the fever in the 101°–102°F (38.3°–38.8°C) range.
The red, itchy skin rash usually starts on the belly or back and face. Then it spreads to almost everywhere else on the body, including the scalp, mouth, arms, legs, and genitals.
The rash begins as many small red bumps that look like pimples or insect bites. They appear in waves over 2 to 4 days, then develop into thin-walled blisters filled with fluid. The blister walls break, leaving open sores, which finally crust over to become dry, brown scabs.
All three stages of the chickenpox rash (red bumps, blisters, and scabs) appear on the body at the same time. The rash may spread wider or be more severe in kids who have weak immune systems or skin disorders like eczema.
What Causes Chickenpox?
Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). This virus also can cause a painful skin rash called shingles (herpes zoster) later in life. After someone has had chickenpox, the virus stays dormant (resting) in the nervous system for the rest of their life. The virus can reactivate ("wake up") later as shingles.
Kids who are vaccinated against chickenpox are much less likely to develop shingles when they get older.
Is Chickenpox Contagious?
Chickenpox is very contagious. Most kids with a sibling who's infected also will get it (if they haven't already had the infection or the vaccine), showing symptoms about 2 weeks after the first child does.
Someone with chickenpox can spread the virus:
through droplets in the air by coughing or sneezing
in their mucus, saliva (spit), or fluid from the blisters
Chickenpox is contagious from about 2 days before the rash starts until all the blisters are crusted over.
Someone with shingles can spread chickenpox (but not shingles) to people who haven't had chickenpox or the vaccine.
Because chickenpox is so contagious, a child who has it should stay home and rest until the rash is gone and all blisters have dried. This usually takes about 1 week. If you're unsure about whether your child is ready to return to school, ask your doctor.
What Problems Can Happen?
Some people are more at risk for complications from chickenpox, including:
newborns born to mothers who had chickenpox
patients with leukemia
kids receiving medicines that suppress the immune system
anyone with immune system problems
If they are exposed to chickenpox, they might be given a medicine (zoster immune globulin) to make the illness less severe.
Can Chickenpox Be Prevented?
Yes. Most people who get the chickenpox vaccine will not get chickenpox. And if they do get chickenpox, their symptoms will be much milder.
Doctors recommend that kids get the chickenpox vaccine as:
a first shot when they're 12–15 months old
a booster shot when they're 4–6 years old
People 6 years of age and older who have never had chickenpox and aren't vaccinated can and should get two doses of the vaccine.
Kids who have had chickenpox do not need the vaccine — they usually have lifelong protection against the illness.
How Is Chickenpox Diagnosed?
Doctors usually can diagnose chickenpox by looking at the telltale rash.
Call your doctor if you think your child has chickenpox. The doctor can guide you in watching for complications and in choosing medicine to ease itching.
If you take your child to the doctor, let the staff know ahead of time that your child might have chickenpox. It's important not to expose other kids in the office — for some of them, a chickenpox infection could cause serious complications.
How Is Chickenpox Treated?
viruscauses chickenpox, so antibiotics can't treat it. But antibiotics are needed if bacteria infect the sores. This can happen when kids scratch and pick at the blisters.
An antiviral medicine might be prescribed for people with chickenpox who are at risk for complications. The depends on the:
child's age and health
extent of the infection
timing of the treatment
Your doctor can tell you if the medicine is right for your child.
How Can I Help My Child Feel Better?
To help relieve the itchiness and discomfort of chickenpox:
Use cool wet compresses or give baths in lukewarm water every 3–4 hours for the first few days. Oatmeal bath products, available at supermarkets and drugstores, can help to relieve itching. (Baths do not spread the rash.)
Pat (don't rub) the body dry.
Put calamine lotion on itchy areas (but don't use it on the face, especially near the eyes).
Ask your doctor or pharmacist about pain-relieving creams to apply to sores in the genital area.
Ask the doctor about using over-the-counter medicine to take by mouth for itching.
To prevent scratching:
Put mittens or gloves on your child's hands to avoid scratching during sleep.
Trim fingernails and keep them clean.
If your child has blisters in the mouth:
Give cold, soft, bland foods because chickenpox in the mouth can make it hard to drink or eat. Avoid anything acidic or salty, like orange juice or pretzels.
Give your child acetaminophen to help relieve pain.
Nevergive aspirin to kids with chickenpox. It can lead to a serious illness called Reye syndrome.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Most chickenpox infections don't need special medical treatment. But sometimes, problems can happen. Call the doctor if your child:
has a fever that lasts for more than 4 days
has a severe cough or trouble breathing
has an area of rash that leaks pus (thick, yellowish fluid) or becomes red, warm, swollen, or sore
has a severe headache
is very drowsy or has trouble waking up
has trouble looking at bright lights
has trouble walking
seems very ill
has a stiff neck
Chickenpox in children | Allegro
Chickenpox is an infectious disease caused by the Varicella Zoster virus. The disease is highly contagious. It is transmitted by airborne droplets or by contact. It is enough for a healthy person to communicate with a sick person for about 5-10 minutes to catch the virus. Chickenpox in children is most often observed at the age of 4-5 years, when the baby's body is most susceptible to infection. A child up to a year old is protected from the disease by the antibodies of the mother, which pass to him during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Children usually tolerate chickenpox quite easily. The incubation period lasts from 5 days to three weeks.
Chickenpox symptoms in children
The initial manifestations of the disease resemble the typical signs of a viral infection and are expressed in:
general malaise, weakness, body aches;
loss of appetite;
increase in body temperature. The more severe the disease, the higher the thermometer rises. With a light flow, the temperature may remain within the normal range or rise slightly.
Severe form of chickenpox is accompanied by vomiting, lymph nodes may increase.
Simultaneously with an increase in temperature, a rash appears on the child's body, which can distinguish chickenpox from other infectious diseases. Rashes in this disease are observed in the vast majority of cases. And even the lightest form is accompanied by a minimum number of characteristic bubbles.
The rash is first noticed on the body, then on the arms, legs and head. There are no bubbles on the feet and palms, but they often appear on the mucous membranes: in the mouth on the tongue and palate, on the genitals and eyes. Red small spots quickly turn into papules, resembling insect bites. Then liquid is formed inside them. After the bubble is opened, a crust appears on it. The whole process is accompanied by severe itching, which causes discomfort to the child and sometimes even interferes with a good sleep. If the inflammation is not combed, they will disappear without a trace in a short time. Otherwise, small scars may remain on the skin due to scratching.
It is important to explain to the child that it is impossible to tear off the crusts and scratch the inflamed areas, as it is possible to bring the infection into the wounds, which will lead to complications.
The symptoms described above are typical manifestations of chickenpox. Atypical forms are of several types:
bullous varicella with purulent large vesicles;
hemorrhagic with bloody vesicles;
gangrenous-necrotic, in which the vesicles are filled with both blood and pus;
rudimentary, which proceeds without a rash and fever, only with typical signs of SARS.
It is impossible to say for sure how many days chickenpox lasts. The first rashes may appear already on the first or second day of illness, the last - after a week and a half. Healing of the skin will occur in one to two weeks. If there are complications, the disease can drag on for several weeks.
Treatment of chickenpox in children
Even with a mild course of the disease, a pediatrician should monitor the child's condition and prescribe medicines. Therefore, the doctor should be called to the house at the first suspicion of chickenpox. A set of measures for this ailment usually includes the following.
The sick baby is isolated so that he does not infect others, as there are some groups of people (pregnant women, the elderly and people with chronic diseases) for whom chickenpox can be extremely dangerous.
Prescribe strict bed rest if the disease is severe or restrict physical activity if the disease is mild.
In the treatment of chickenpox, if there are no complications, do not use antiviral drugs and antibiotics.
The child should be offered a lot to drink: clean water, tea, fruit drinks.
Food should be as light as possible: soups, steamed fish and meat, mashed fruits and vegetables (if there is a rash on the oral mucosa).
Suitable preparations based on ibuprofen and paracetamol are used as antipyretics.
Antiseptics are used to treat the rash: fukortsin, brilliant green, hydrogen peroxide, potassium permanganate, zinc-based products.
If itching is severe, your doctor may prescribe antihistamines.
When a rash forms in the oral cavity, the pediatrician will advise rinsing with furatsilin, herbal decoctions. Painful wounds can be lubricated with anesthetic gels.
If there are scars after chickenpox, they are lubricated with special agents prescribed by the doctor.
Complications of chickenpox
Chicken pox is usually mild. Complications occur when a bacterial or viral infection joins the disease. This can happen when:
pediatrician's prescriptions are not followed;
the prescribed medications are ignored;
hygiene measures are not observed;
the baby has a weakened immune system, aggravated by chronic diseases.
Complications may be viral or bacterial. In this case, the child is treated in a hospital under the constant supervision of a physician.
The most common medical complications are:
pneumonia. With shortness of breath, blue skin in the area of the nose and lips, coughing, an urgent consultation with a doctor and placement in a hospital are needed;
encephalitis. If a child has convulsions, vomiting, fever, and he loses consciousness, these can all be symptoms of a very serious illness. An ambulance must be called promptly.
otitis. In this case, the middle ear becomes inflamed. You need to consult an ENT doctor.
stomatitis. When a bacterial infection joins, painful blisters with liquid form in the mouth.
Among the measures to prevent complications, the observance of the basic hygiene rules is emphasized:
change bed linen every two days;
keep the child from scratching the wounds;
, you can bathe your baby in a decoction of herbs or a weak solution of potassium permanganate and wipe the body very carefully after the bath.
Chickenpox in children usually lasts 10-14 days. With good immunity of the child and compliance with all the doctor's prescriptions, it passes without complications, and there are practically no traces on the skin.
Symptoms of chickenpox in children
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About the establishment
Many people consider chickenpox, sometimes simply referred to as "chickenpox", to be a fairly mild childhood illness. Caused by the herpes virus herpeszoster, it is fairly mild in children between the ages of 5 and 10, but can have serious complications if neglected. At the same time, the disease is quite difficult to tolerate newborn babies and adults. In old age, this virus may not be expressed in a habitual skin rash like with chickenpox, but develop into shingles or herpes.
Having suffered chicken pox, the human body develops lifelong immunity to this disease, however, the person remains a carrier of the virus, which, with the development of favorable conditions, can reassert itself over time.
Chickenpox spreads only through direct contact with the patient. Although there is an opinion that you can get infected using cutlery or things of an infected person, this is not so. The herpeszoster virus is very susceptible to the environment and dies within minutes.
The incubation period can last up to 3 weeks. During this time, the disease does not manifest itself in any way, but it is during this period that the patient is most dangerous to others. Especially a few days before the rash appears. By the end of the third week, a slight redness may appear on the baby's skin, quickly developing into a nodule, and then into a bubble filled with a cloudy liquid. Often, the first spots can appear on the scalp under the hair or on the face.
A few hours later, the number of such spots - papules, increases dramatically, especially on the abdomen in the navel. The liquid that fills them contains a high concentration of the herpeszoster virus, so they should never be pierced or squeezed out. To avoid re-infection or the development of a subcutaneous infection, they must be lubricated with any antiseptic and carefully monitored so that the baby does not scratch them. Otherwise, damage to the papules can lead to the development of a disease such as purulent dermatitis.
In addition to the rash, after a few days, secondary symptoms of intoxication of the body may develop:
nausea and indigestion;
loss of appetite and general weakness;
The child may become more cranky and tired quickly, which is why bed rest is recommended.
There is no direct cure for chickenpox. Doctors and pediatricians in the bulk prescribe symptomatic treatment. Since antibiotics are useless in this case, since viruses, unlike bacteria, do not react to them, it is necessary to let the baby's body overcome this disease on its own. Sometimes antipyretics are prescribed to reduce the temperature, and antihistamines to reduce itching. Many doctors even question the wisdom of vaccinations, as they do not provide lifelong immunity and can usually only delay the chance of getting sick.
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